Sunday, February 01, 2009

Networking -Why and How To

Politicians. executives and sales people know networking is essential to their success -and they select the best (expensive) electronic tools for the job. Students, parents, employees and retirees should also practice network skills and organize according to their means.

The goals of purposeful networking are to to gather an ever-expanding circle of influential people and to maintain contact with old friends and business and professional people. Yes, use the Internet for information and for seeking out smart people to network with, but don't neglect random acts of kindness; they can generate unexpected rewards down the road.

Don't be shy about diversifying contacts across multiple groups, across gender and generational lines. Get to know neighbours. They know others you wish to know. And, don't forget to stay in contact with widely-dispersed school mates.

Use networking to meet the right people before you need their help. Don't just be a taker. Ask for help, yes, but also give. Exchange is the motive-power of networking. Use it to test relationships. Offer to introduce contacts to those who might be able to help them. Acessing sources and resources is not using people if you reciprocate. And, after getting useful referrals, always follow-up with thanks. Implementing all of this prescriptive advice takes effort, some organization -and structure.

How to: You can find applications in Office Suites, you can set up a spread sheet, or you can simply lay it out in a Word Document. The key is to set up separate categories for say, family, school, church, business, etc. A basic format would include:

Name, e-mail, birthday

Occupation and or title

Hobbies and/or special interests

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